Thoughts on Attendance Certificates etc for kids...

(218 Posts)
expansivegirth Sat 20-Apr-13 09:01:39

Our school has just started giving out attendance prizes for children. This is an infants school. The children are 4, 5, 6. and 7. The attendance prizes - certificates or a pencil... - are given both to individuals and to classes.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. This policy is seriously arsing me off.

I feel it's deeply unfair to hold children accountable for the fact that heir parents choose not to bring them to school or struggle to get them to school on time...

I feel it fosters feelings of failure and resentment among the class. Thus those kids who care about attendance end up feeling cross with the children who, for whatever reason, don't turn up at all and bring down the class average.

Also the school does not discriminate between absences. A sick child, a child with feckless parents, a child on authorised holiday - they all count equally towards absence figures. A child who is ill ends up not getting a certificate - or worse - getting told off for low attendance - even though she's been throwing up all night.

These are VERY YOUNG KIDS. Anyone able to defend this policy please?

(Other than a Govian attempt to train obedient workers who are able to adjust early to unfair employment laws).

Frikadellen Sat 20-Apr-13 09:10:13

I hate this policy with a passion and I have just asked for it to be raised at our parent forum next month (14th)

My friend and I are going to suggest that they instead go for house points for houses with highest attendance %. So no more individual praise for being well. We have also discussed suggesting something about % of arrival pr house & perhaps do house wear what you like day as "reward"

Last term my dd3 had tonsillitis and then later on V&D obviously she was not in school for either of those episodes. She had 4 days out in total. So she will be " punished" for not being well enough for school. I kept her home as she was too unwell but I know parents who would have sent her in after the V&D (started at 4 pm) as she was not throwing up the next day.

My friends dd has a medical condition where she up until this term have always had termly medical appointments. Due to this she has never had a 100% attendance until this term (where her appointments has gone to half yearly) That to me is as insane how can the fact a child needs to regular see a doctor for monitoring over something she has no control over = she can't get a certificate for 100% attendance?

To me this is a utterly insane thing to suggest.

Sorry you got me off on a rant I really loathe this policy. I very much hope the school takes out points of view into account on this.

MTSgroupie Sat 20-Apr-13 09:17:57

I question the value of such reward schemes. After the initial excitement, my DCs thought that a certificate for sitting nicely on the carpet during story time, for example, was kind of silly.

Having said that, I have no problems with such a scheme in principle. Some kids like the recognition.

MTSgroupie Sat 20-Apr-13 09:22:44

... If my child has all these medical problems then my DC not getting some 'certificate' printed on cheap paper and laminated would be the least of my problems.

Wellthen Sat 20-Apr-13 09:38:29

Please can we ban these threads? I swear people start them just to annoy people. Try doing a search to see if your topic has already been discussed over and over before.

The school is taking action to ensure they have good attendence because it can be a huge factor in progress. Obviously some children have genuine reasons they cant make 100%. I have genuine reasons I wont win a gold medal but I dont expect them to change the rules. We cant do everything in life and its an important message for children.

GerrardWinstanley Sat 20-Apr-13 09:47:34

MTSgroupie - the point is, if your child has a serious medical problem, for them being different is often the hardest thing to live with. And in fact, as a parent to a child with a serious medical condition, inclusion, fairness and normalising her childhood are every bit as important to me as her medical care.

My DD has a hospital appointment at least every 3 months. She already struggles with the social and emotional implications of her condition. Her school have recently introduced an attendance certificate scheme. At some point she will realise she is never going to get one and all those feelings of exclusion will hit her again.

BTW she actually has well above average attendance for her year group. At least once a week she goes to school when I could very reasonably keep her home. She's going to have to be tough so she may as well start now. Despite that she still won't get a certificate, whilst a child who is lucky enough to be well will get one.

Children are either off school because they are sick or because their parents can't be arsed. A laminated bit of paper won't solve either of those problems. It's another one of those things schools introduce to give the appearance of tackling an attendance problem.

I hate these certificates, at least when the kids are of an age where they can't directly control what time they get to school but are dependent on their parents.

I also had a condition which meant termly consultant appointments as a child, therefore I never qualified for any attendance certificate/reward and as a result was singled out regularly by my classmates.

DD's school do do them, but very low key - the child gets a certificate sent home in their bookbag at the start of the next term, if they have achieved 100% attendance. I bin them as soon as they arrive, afaik DD doesn't know they exist yet and I hope she won't.

Hulababy Sat 20-Apr-13 09:57:08

I dislike attendance awards, especially at primary schools and even more so for infant classes.

At these ages attendance rarely has anything to do with the child themselves.

If schools want to give out attendance awards they should possibly give them to the parents. After all they are the ones who are responsible or not.

However, even this is not really workable...it doesn't take into account special needs, disabilities, general illness, etc. where neither child nor parent are responsible.

And I personally, as I work in an infant school, I would like to see more done to discourage parents from bringing in ill children. I am fed up of being ill and catching bugs from poorly children who are brought into school with fevers and high temperatures, d&v, etc.

papooser Sat 20-Apr-13 10:09:08

I hate them too - and equally hate the letters that you receive if your child slips below the given percentage level of attendance. Last term DS1 received a certificate for 100% attendance in the first half term, then a warning letter in the second half because his attendance had slipped below 95% (he had serious gastro followed by chicken pox - what was I supposed to do?). Neither of which has any bearing on his school attendance - if he is well, he goes; if he is infectious and poorly, he doesn't go.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:34:30

My question is: where does this policy come from? In our case it's from the LEA. The school is not pro it. what dies the kea gain by high attendance. Is it just ofsted ranking. How poor does overall attendance have to be before it brings a school down an ofsted 'grade'. What are the repercussions in terms of funding? Is there any serious evidence that the benefits of this policy in infants (if any) outweighed Thr negatives (many). can anyone link me to relevant research? Ta

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:41:12

Wellthen: I disagree. It's an unfair policy as it holds children accountable for circumstances beyond their control. I have no intention of allowing my children to passively accept unjust or illogical or ill thought out laws or rules.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 10:43:28

Some I don't care about... Soothe kids know the lunch box rules are illogical and stupid.... No cake in packed box but chocolate gloop ok for school dinners. But its not worth a fight. I think absence certificates cause distress to many children and are fundamentally unjust.

lljkk Netherlands Sat 20-Apr-13 10:43:44

I don't care really. But what leaves me hmm is that kids lose attendance marks if they ...

have a medical appointment;
compete representing the school at a sports event;
attend a music grading or
even go to an induction day at the High School.

How does that work? confused

DorisIsWaiting Sat 20-Apr-13 10:59:51

I hate them DD2 has a chronic disease she will never have full attendance (on clinic appointments alone).

Why should she be further penalised for something out of her control.

It's shit

""I have no intention of allowing my children to passively accept unjust or illogical or ill thought out laws or rules."

^^ yes to this well said Enthuse

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 11:33:51

A dyspraxic child can never hope to win a sports certificate. Many of the rest don't have much chance either (perhaps because their parents don't do much excercise/throwing and catching with them, but that's not their fault), but a small pool of children with the right genes and the right environment will reap all the sports honours.

Similarly, many children (perhaps dyslexic or with other specific learning problems, or maybe just average kids) will never win spelling tests/ maths certificates and the like as there are always a few gifted children who will mop all these awards up.

So whatever you reward it's down to luck, having the right genes, parents or experience. Attendance certificates are no different. Unless you are against all competition, which is quite a valid stance, but you should then be equally opposed to tables tests, competitive sports etc, it's not really on to moan about them. Like the parents of left-footed lucy at sports day you just have to let others have their moment with good grace.

I do actually think it is a big achievement for a child to go through a term with no absences and something to celebrate (moreso than athletic or maths ability imo). If it stops a few children taking unwarranted duvet days or time of school for avoidable family outings it's a good thing too. Sure there's a lot of luck involved too, but if it helps reduce the culture of days off because you feel like it in some dc that will probably spread to others who also have to have unavoidable days off too, and be a good thing. Children who slog out every day at school and whose parents never bunk them off for the day for a special occasion deserve some reward and remember to those children even health related absence can look appealing as they only see that xxx is missing maths again to see the dentist (or whatever) without having much awareness of the toothache.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 11:59:06

In the last thread I read on this topic, someone was looking into whether such awards were legally discriminatory. She had a child with a chronic condition and was exploring this avenue. It did seem that it probably was discriminatory in certain cases.
Would love update on this.

Enthuse Sat 20-Apr-13 12:30:42

Glaurung: yes people have different abilities but the point is that attrndance or lateness has nothing to do withna child's ability but with a parents inclination. The kind of parent who allows persistent absenteeism or lateness will not be swayed by a certificate. Plus i think it is deeply wrong to set up a child in conflict with their parent to donthe right thing when they are, say, five.
Plus children do not choose to stay home for duvet days... Their parents allow it. If anyone is to be given a award it is the parents

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 12:49:45

if ability can be trained then that's as much to do with parents as late arrival is. Attendance is also down to good health which is probably as much genetic as good parenting. All these things have a mixture of both to be honest.

The really good thing about attendence certs is it sends a very clear message to all children that attendance and education is important and valued. If a child is often late they will know that is wrong even if they can't do anything about it.

tiggytape Sat 20-Apr-13 12:52:16

Sunflower - yes it was landofsoapandglory and the asthma charity told her it was discrimination. Here is what she said on her post:

I believed their policy to be discriminatory, so contacted asthma.org for advice and they told me to contact the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. They told me that it is discriminatory, and any absence for a SN, disability, or long term medical condition should be logged separately and discounted when the attendance awards are given out, as 'reasonable adjustment' needs to be made to put them on a level playing field with all the other DC.

Our school do the same. Absence related to disability has to be logged separately and doesn't count in any attendance stats so DS’s official attendance last term was 100% despite having half a day off every fortnight to attend appointments with his consultants. These appointments cannot be made outside school time and are directly related to his disability. As it happens his school don’t give any staggering rewards for attendance
All parts of society have to make allowances for disability including in terms of attendance. It is utterly unfair (and not allowed) to exclude a child from a reward scheme on the basis that they have a disability that makes ever qualifying for that reward absolutely impossible - in the case of my son for example he has appointments booked in school time for the whole year ahead so would already be disqualified if his school did this.

SunflowersSmile Sat 20-Apr-13 13:14:37

Thanks Tiggytape.
Many schools are being discriminatory then it seems.....

madhairday Sat 20-Apr-13 15:48:11

glaurung, no. They are not an award for any kind of achievement, they are either for good luck or parents pushing sick children into school and infecting all the vulnerable children who are sick a lot anyway.

They are disablist. I took this up with the governing body at our last school and will be doing so at our present one shortly. DD has never won one in her life, she has had hospital appts at least every half term for a number of chronic conditions. Children like her have enough to contend with without being made to feel yet again like they are failing in another area. Even worse are the class awards - dd was regularly bullied due to the fact that she 'lost' the award yet again hmm

They are truly shite. The more i think about them, the more I get angry.

BTW, glaurung, dyspraxic children can win sports awards. DD is dyspraxic and has won awards for her running. She may not run straight or in classic fashion, but she is bloody quick and has the stamina of an Olympic triathlete grin

glaurung Sat 20-Apr-13 16:08:22

most awards are for good luck in one sense or another. Glad that your dd is lucky enough to be bloody quick, perhaps dyspraxia was a bad example - but we all know dc who are not going to win a regular sports event ever, and most times it's the same few athletic types that bag the lot.

I do support efforts to make awards fairer though and tiggy's school sounds as if they have it right excluding absence related to disability.

The vast majority of parents wouldn't be swayed by this to send truly sick dc in. In my experience parents that do this are usually working parents for whom other life pressures are very great and it's the difficulties of emergency childcare that force their hand. It's more likely that children who may have stayed home with a slight sniffle will attend that the other way around.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 17:16:48

Here is as short summary of school awards by MNers:

MNers don't like it when

- children who are perfectly well behaved and high achieving all the time don't get awards for effort
- naughty children get awards for sitting still for five minutes
- naughty children don't get good conduct awards even though they've tried really hard
- children who live a long way from school in rural areas where there are no pavements don't get awards for walking to school
- children with chronic illnesses don't get attendance awards.

I think it's time schools stopped giving awards.

radicalsubstitution Sat 20-Apr-13 17:19:33

IME, schools give awards for all sorts of things.

For some children, the 100% attendance award may be the only one they are likely to get.

whistleahappytune Sat 20-Apr-13 18:36:49

I hate these awards. It doesn't send the right message at all. An Attendance Certificate is an award for "showing up". Crap really.
And even though I'm very lucky to have a generally healthy daughter with none of the disabilities or chronic illnesses discussed on this thread, she does get the odd virus. This year it was the noro. Cue three days of vom - ...oh I'll spare you the details. I don't see the point of penalising children who get normal childhood illnesses or are dealing with serious medical issues, or otherwise going on approved absences for music or sports activities.

It's nonsense and certainly not "an important message for children".

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